“The Perfect Couple” by Elin Hilderbrand, New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2018.
Known as the “Queen of the Beach Read”, Elin Hilderbrand departs a bit from her usual works in her newest novel, “The Perfect Couple.” It still takes place on her beloved Nantucket Island, the cover still features artwork of the glittering sea meeting lush sand, and the story itself is still filled to the brim with plenty of family drama, colorful characters, and sweeping romance, but the plot is now more murder mystery than simply romance.
The book opens on the day of what is to be one of the most lavish and talked-about weddings of the season in Nantucket. However, tragedy strikes when the maid of honor, and the bride’s best friend, is found drowned at the sumptuous estate of the groom’s family, where the wedding is to be held.
For a reader who is looking to be immersed into the high-class world of exotic meals, dreamy island landscapes, and alluring fashion, this novel is the perfect summer escape. There is no shortage on descriptions of multi-course seafood feasts, stylish outfits, and all the rich details of quaint yet luxurious Nantucket.
However, the suspense of “whodunnit?” is what keeps the pages turning. The novel follows several points of view, including the Chief of the Nantucket Police Department, whom readers of Hilderbrand’s other novels may recognize, the mother of the groom, a wealthy, successful murder mystery writer who has done the majority of the wedding planning, the mother of the bride, a working-class, down-to-earth woman with Stage 4 cancer, and the bride herself. The story flashes from the wedding weekend back to the months leading up to the wedding. As the characters’ stories unfold, it seems several of them have a motive for murder. Secret after secret is revealed, and the ending is a satisfying one.
Despite the extensive descriptions of the carnal pleasures of the characters, such as food, fashion, their homes, and their physical attractions, the novel develops each character well—even the more minor characters, such as a long-time family friend, the best man, and the resident wedding planner.
Pick this book up for the pleasure of being transported to the world of Nantucket’s finest, and finish it for the answer to “whodunnit?” But along the way, explore the deeper questions that take a look at families and relationships in general: Is any couple perfect? Is any family perfect? Despite having the best of everything, and more money than some can ever even dream of, what is it that truly makes a person happy? And the more unnerving question, even though a person can be a best friend, parent, child, spouse, or lover, doesn’t everyone have a secret?
Whether on the beach or not, “The Perfect Couple” is the perfect summer read.
Jenna Beers is a Circulation Assistant at the Graham Public Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.